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Iowa legislature, Branstad budget differ on conservation funding

DES MOINES, Iowa – After pulling an all-nighter Wednesday night through to Thursday morning, the Iowa House of Representative adjourned amid a flurry of bills.

Notable among them was Senate File 2363, which made several appropriations for agriculture in fiscal year 2015, which were absent in Governor Brandstad’s proposed budget out earlier this year.

Specifically, the Iowa House appropriated $5 million to soil and water conservation and administration; $3.5 million to the Iowa water quality initiative; $1.5 million to the state watershed improvement fund; and $1.24 million to the ag drainage well water quality assistance fund.

The $3.5 million headed to the water quality fund is more than 55% above the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s request of $2.25 million. That amount would come in addition to a scheduled increase in funding for the Iowa water quality initiative, up to $4.4 million from $2.4 million last year.

When the legislature’s budget lands on the governor’s desk, differences between it and his proposed budget will likely be shortlisted for a veto, but Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey is optimistic.

“I think it’s always important to let him see how this fits in with everything,” said Northey. “But he’s been very supportive over water quality efforts over conservation efforts here. We’re very hopeful that he would sign this budget and that this would provide some additional dollars and momentum to continue the water quality initiative and other practices that we do here.”

To hear more on the legislature’s conservation appropriations, click here.